It’s almost depressing to think that in a blink of an eye a quarter of the NFL season has come and gone. The good thing is that after four weeks of hard-fought action we are starting to see who the contenders and pretenders are on the field and in fantasy football the studs are starting to separate themselves from the duds.
Related: Week 4 NFL Fantasy All-Dud Team
There have been some outstanding fantasy performance so far this season. If you drafted properly you might even be lucky enough to have two maybe three of these fantasy MVPs on your team.
If you do, good for you. You’re in excellent shape for the rest of the season. If not, there’s still hope — kind of.
So who are the fantasy MVPs at the quarter pole? Let’s find out.
Note: Standard scoring used to calculate fantasy points
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (96.5 fantasy points)
89-of-123, 72.4 percent, 995 passing yards, 11 TDs, 0 INTs, 105 rushing yards
No real surprise here. Tom Brady is a close second, but unfortunately because his bye week was so early (Week 4), he played one less game than Rodgers.
Rodgers has dominated in every facet of the game. He’s accumulated 96.5 fantasy points so far, which means that if he keeps this up he could challenge 400 total fantasy points on the season. That probably won’t happen because the Packers will probably keep winning and look to rest Rodgers a bit down the stretch, which makes him an interesting play come fantasy football playoff time.
Regardless, through the first four games of this season, he’s dismantled the Bears, Seahawks, Chiefs and the 49ers, while that’s not really murderer's row (except Seattle), at least he produced. That can’t be said for many other supposed stud QBs (cough, Andrew Luck, cough).
There’s no doubting that Rodgers will continue his torrid pace and it should be very interesting to see if Rodgers can keep his fantasy MVP status or if he will be passed by Brady or someone else. Guess we’ll have to sit back and enjoy the ride and check back at the halfway point of the season.
Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons (86.8 FP)
66 att., 252 rushing yards, 3.8 ypc, 7 TDs, 17 receptions, 196 receiving yards
Freeman is by far the biggest surprise of the NFL season so far, both in real life and in fantasy football. Think about it, Freeman leads all running backs in fantasy points and he wasn’t a first-round pick, nor a second- or third-round pick. Heck, his teammate, rookie running back Tevin Coleman was drafted before him in almost every fantasy draft.
Freeman was a flier pick or, for smart fantasy players, a Coleman handcuff. Believe it or not Freeman only scored 4.7 fantasy points in Week 1 and 11.9 Week 2. He got his opportunity in Week 3 when Coleman went down with a rib injury and he hasn’t looked back, scoring six touchdowns in the last two games.
The big question is whether or not Freeman can keep this up. While he probably won’t score 30 fantasy points per game for the rest of the season you can bet that the Falcons are going to keep giving Freeman the ball even when Coleman comes back.
Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs (71.7 FP)
59 att., 306 rushing yards, 5.2 ypc, 4 TDS, 20 receptions, 151 receiving yards, TD
Charles barely beats out Adrian Peterson for this spot and it is all thanks to his pass-catching ability out of the backfield. The other thing that makes Charles so good is that so far in 2015, he’s been one of the most consistent fantasy producers in all of football. He hasn’t scored less than 14 fantasy points in any game this season. That’s despite the fact that the Chiefs have primarily been playing from behind in every game, which has really limited Charles’ opportunity to run the ball.
However he’s still averaging 5.2 yards per carry and already accumulated over 450 total yards. Charles has a great schedule coming up before his bye week in Week 9, so you can expect many more great things from him moving forward.
Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons (71.8 FP)
38 receptions, 478 receiving yards, 12.6 ypr, 4 TDs
Jones is an absolute beast and has taken over as the best wide receiver in football — hands down. Jones is so good that he is still leading all wide receivers in fantasy points coming off a Week 4 game where he was basically a decoy and only caught four passes for 38 yards, that’s 3.8 fantasy points (in standard leagues).
Of course every player, even one as great and gifted as Jones, is going to have an off game. When you look at Jones’ stats what really stands out is the whopping 52 targets he has already accumulated. That's good for second in the NFL behind DeAndre Hopkins' 60 (22 of those coming in Week 4 alone). Matt Ryan loves throwing the ball Jones’ way and it really doesn’t matter if No. 11 is covered or not.
Jones should continue to dominate on the field and in fantasy football moving forward but you always have to wonder about his health, since he often shows up on the injury report and hasn’t played a full season since 2012. Then there’s Atlanta’s newfound running game with the aforementioned Freeman. How will that affect Jones’ numbers moving forward? Is he a sell-high candidate?
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals (71.2 FP)
30 receptions, 432 receiving yards, 14.4 ypr, 5 TDs
Heading into the 2015 season many folks had written Fitzgerald off as past his prime. He’s old and slow they said. He’s going to be just the third-best wide receiver on the Cardinals they said. This led to many fantasy owners passing on Fitzgerald into the late rounds and, believe it or not, in many of my leagues Michael Floyd and John Brown were taken ahead of Fitzgerald.
Thanks to Carson Palmer’s return to full health, Fitzgerald has seen a career renaissance. He hasn’t caught less than six balls in or recorded less than 80 receiving yards in every game so far. He’s been even more valuable in PPR leagues.
Look for Fitzgerald to stay hot. He plays the Lions this week, Pittsburgh in Week 6, followed by Baltimore and Cleveland before the Cardinals have their bye in Week 9. You could even go as far to say that by the end of Week 8, Fitzgerald will be the No. 1 fantasy wide receiver. You heard it here first.
Rob Gronkowski, New England (54.8 FP)
16 receptions, 308 receiving yards, 19.3 ypr, 4 TDs
Really big surprise here. Gronkowski has 13 more fantasy points than the next tight end (Travis Kelce) and Gronk has only played three games. In fact, it’s safe to say that Gronk would have closer to 60 fantasy points by now if he didn’t have a Week 4 bye. That would place him around the No. 6 fantasy wide receiver. That’s how good and valuable he is.
While many other first-round fantasy draft picks have massively disappointed, those who took Gronk early in their draft have been reaping the benefits. Having Tom Brady playing with a chip on his shoulder and at such a high level sure doesn’t hurt Gronk’s value either.
And there’s no reason to think that Brady or Gronk are going to slow down. The only thing that could stand in Gronk’s way of having one of the best, if not the best, seasons a tight end has ever had, is an injury. But hopefully his injury history is behind him because it sure is fun to watch him play.
— Written by Michael Horvath, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Horvath is a Canadian who also happens to be a fantasy football (not to be confused with CFL) and fitness nut. Follow him on Twitter @realmikehorvath.